Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson Press Conference Remarks, Sept. 24, 2007 Eastern Michigan at Vanderbilt
Opening Statement... "We finished up a good open week and we're glad to be back in action this week. Eastern Michigan is coming to town. It's going to be a test for us. We need to step up and make sure we're ready to play. We're looking forward to getting back in action."
On the relationship between Vanderbilt and the Mid-American Conference (MAC)... "There have been all kinds of schedule changes with that agreement. Miami (Ohio) came to our aid this year because of overbooking in the MAC. We're going to go up there next year for a return game to get that contract finished. It's a good matchup I think. They are I-A teams with outstanding history. A bunch of (MAC) teams play well across the country. I think it's a pretty natural thing to do out of conference instead of looking at a I-AA team. They're fine programs up there and it gives us a chance to go out of the region and play somebody different and give us a different look."
On the reputation of the MAC among coaches... "It's very well respected. You look at some of the huge upsets that they've had over the years. We wouldn't consider them upsets. The year that Miami (Ohio) had with Roethlisberger and all those guys. Northern Illinois has been really good a couple of years. Akron had a good run. They got some very good teams. They're a lot of good high school football up in that area so there's a lot of players to choose from. They recruit very well in a hotbed of high school football."
On Eastern Michigan quarterback Andy Schmitt... "He does a good job running their offense. Not only does he throw, but he can run the football offense. They have the same philosophy on offense that we do. They spread it out a little bit, run some zone reads, throw the ball off of play action and throw the ball drop back. He's done a great job. He threw four touchdown passes last week against Howard. Obviously, when you have those big guys that can stand in the pocket and mobile enough to run, you got a pretty good weapon there."
On the off week... "We had three very good practices for an off week. Our coaches were able to get out Thursday and Friday and do some recruiting which helps this time of the year. It gave us a chance to examine not only what Eastern Michigan does, but grade what we have been doing so far this year and give us a chance to look at ourselves. I thought it was a productive week for us. You always like an off week until you get to Saturday. Then, you wish you were playing."
On what the off week meant for Chris Nickson... "Hopefully, get completely well and don't even have to think about injuries any more, which he doesn't. Chris wants to practice everyday. Coach Kiser made a good comment this morning saying `Chris thinks work fixes everything.' He's going to go out and if he's hurt, he wants to work through it and try to get better while he's healing up. Sometime you have to tell him that he has to sit out today. It helped him I think. It also sort of helps him sit back and look at the offense while we're at practice and see the big picture instead of just concentrating on a certain read."
On the importance of having a good pass rush... "Always in this league you have to get a pass rush whether it's with your four down people or you bringing five or six. It's just a prerequisite for playing in this league. You can't sit back and let these guys throw. You got to mix it up. You can't be pass rush happy. That opens you up for other things. Right now, I think we got a pretty good mix going. I think Coach Fowler is doing a good job of mixing some of the zone pressures and man pressures up. We're getting some rush with our front four guys. I think with Broderick Stewart and Curtis Gatewood we got two pretty fast ends that are hard to hem up sometimes. Our inside guys are doing a good job too of putting pressure but also picking up blockers."
On the performance of the offensive line against Ole Miss... "As you practice more and you see the mistakes you make in the first two games, you try to get them corrected. I think Coach (Robbie) Caldwell did a fantastic job of really concentrating on what we had to do with the offensive line to get those kinds of holes for our backs and our backs ran extremely hard. We also had a quarterback who was healthy who could put pressure on them throwing the football so they had to defend both. We couldn't throw it very well against Alabama because Chris was hurt. You're just not going to line up and run it and run it and run it against them and be successful. You got to have both threats working every game or you're going to be hard pressed to win."